Michael Mina – San Francisco
My husband is very spontaneous. That is actually one of the things I love about him. He had been traveling for weeks so he made reservations at Michael Mina’s restaurant for us and told me we were going when I got home from work. Of course I was not dressed up and neither was John.We knew this restaurant was fancy but who cares! Mina’s restaurant has won many awards and is one of the best in this city of great food.
We walked in and we were greeted immediately and seated. The decor is very nice. The large mirrors in the dining area are stunning and the booth seating was comfy. We also noticed that Stephen Curry’s sister works there as a hostess which was a shocker. We were handed the menus and there are two course options – Chef’s tasting menu (where you don’t know what you’re getting) or five courses of your choice. We chose the five course option since we weren’t sure how large the portions are and wanted to play it safe. Disclaimer: we ate here a week ago and there were so many courses and large words on the menu that I barely remember what I ate so I’m going to do my best.
The firs bite of food was compliments of the chef included the most delicious oyster I have ever had in my life. It melted in my mouth! It came with a piece of wonderful Hamachi with tiny pieces of radish on top and another piece of fish that was underwhelming but the jalapeno helped since I get excited anytime I see jalapeno.
For the first course John and I chose Dungeness Crab Chawanmushi. Chawanmushi s a Japanese egg custard. I had never had anything like this dish before. It tasted like black pepper in a very fragrant oil with Dungeness crab on top of an egg custard (pictured below). It was the best piece of crab I’ve ever had however I am not sure if I liked the dish. I definitely didn’t dislike it. It was just so unfamiliar that I would like to have it again just to see how I feel about it since I wouldn’t be caught off guard by the custard element.
For our second course John got the Spanish bluefin tuna course and I got the Caledonia prawn course. We didn’t realize that the second course focuses on the proteins listed about but serves them three different ways. This was a nice element. I only tried John’s tuna tartare and it was good but it’s not the best tartare I’ve ever had. The bread served with the tartare was much too dry. On the other hand, the prawn appetizer was amazing. Each prawn was cooked perfectly and they all were infused with Thai flavors which I really enjoyed. I am obsessed with Thai food so this was a treat.
Our fourth course was a pasta course and while I remember being happy with it, I don’t remember it. It was not memorable at all. The final savory course we chose was fish. John chose Sea Bass three ways and I had a different kind of fish. I actually didn’t think it was the best entree I’ve ever had. It lacked the abundance of flavors that the other courses had and I honestly forgot about that course too! The photos of our main courses are below.
Desert was amazing though. It began with a shaved ice palette cleanser with fresh watermelon. It was so amazing. I tried not to eat it all or I would appear less classy (lol). The finale was a roasted peach tartare. A half peach with a sweet glaze on top of a peach jam and a cookie made of crust with peach sorbet. This dessert was the highlight of my life. It was amazing. I could eat it a million times over and fall in love each time.
Ultimately will I visit MM again? Probably not. The dinner was quite expensive and while I was impressed with a lot of the elements of the dinner, I’ve had cheaper dinners worth much more in regards to flavors and experience. If you have an extra few hundred dollars and a very special occasion you should still visit because, yolo!
Chubby Noodle – San Francisco
You may not be able to tell from my blog but I am serious about my Asian food. I am even more serious about my carbohydrates and Chubby Noodle did not disappoint!
I was super early for a comedy show last week so I decided to look for something to eat to kill time. When I search for food I don’t just choose and move on, I strategize. I did a quick search and saw that Chubby Noodle was near the comedy spot – perfect. First of all, they play hip hop music, thank you! Secondly the atmosphere was really cute and looked like a little cafe with an Asian flare. I sat down and immediately ordered calamari.
The calamari was $14 which I though was steep but when it arrived I quickly found out why. The portion is huge (for San Francisco) and the seafood was extremely fresh. This was hands down the best calamari I have ever had. The sauce was amazing and the jalapenos tossed in added that perfect amount of heat. My mouth is watering thinking about it! By the time my entree came I was so stuck on eating my calamari that I could barely switch gears.
For my entree I ordered Spicy Garlic Noodles with shrimp added in. My only complaint – they weren’t spicy. I asked the server to make it extra spicy and he said they would add extra jalapenos. There were about 4 jalapeno slices in my noodles and I’m pretty sure that’s not extra. That being said, I did not complain because the noodles were amazing. The flavor of the brown sauce was on point and the noodles were fat and fresh. Lots of Asian eateries overcook seafood but the shrimp here were amazing!
The service was so friendly, the music was great, the food was even better. Chubby Noodle is officially on my go to list to bring people who visit SF. It is a must try!
Oriental Spoon – Phuket, Thailand
Oriental Spoon is located in Twinpalms hotel. I know what you’re thinking, it’s in the hotel? Yes but let me tell you right now, this place was delicious. John and I love to eat where we stay and Oriental Spoon did not disappoint. In fact, if you’re traveling to Phuket, I recommend making your way to Oriental Spoon for dinner because it was that good.
We ordered the Whole Fried Seabass with Lemongrass Sauce and Tom Yum Goong Soup three times for dinner during our stay. After the first night we were hooked! The Seabass was amazing. It was cooked whole, the slightly sweet and savory sauce covered the crunchy fish and included the most fragrant lemongrass I’ve ever smelled and shallots.
The Soup was mine! I ordered it spicy and I can’t even explain the flavors. It was sour and spicy and lemongrassy. The three large prawns were so perfectly cooked that they melt in your mouth. I also liked that ceramic pot that the soup came it. It had a flame on the bottom so the soup stayed hot. I’ve ordered this soup from a Thai place here in SF three times since our honeymoon!
We also enjoyed the special on our last night. Scallops on a puree of something that I don’t remember. John enjoyed it but the dish wasn’t memorable to me. They also had a breakfast buffet daily that wasn’t stellar, it did the trick for something quick and decent.
I know for a fact I will never have soup this delicious again and it makes me really sad. My mouth is watering right now. Before this trip I swore that I didn’t like Thai food but now, I can’t get enough of it. Thai dishes are some of my favorite things to eat now.
Price: $$$ (For Thailand)
The House – San Francisco
John decided to eat here yesterday on a whim. We had never been here before, the reviews online were good, and we absolutely love Asian food and seafood so we decided to give it a shot. THE BEST. We loved every single dish that landed on our table. This spot is an absolute gem – here is what I ate.
Shrimp & Chinese Chive Dumplings. I would slap babies for these dumplings, I’m serious.
dThey were filled with noticeably delicious, fresh ingredients and the dumpling wrapper was perfect – not too thick and not too thin. All of the dishes are garnished with different types of radish so that crunch was a nice compliment to the soft steamed dumpling. But, the sauce. Da sauce that came with the dumplings was divine. I saved the sauce and dipped everything I ate it in – that’s how good it was. The sauce was a soy sauce and green onion base and that seems simple but it was perfectly acidic with the right amount of vinegar.
We also started with a special appetizer that’s not on the menu. Seared scallops with micro greens. These were unique because most of the time seared scallops are only seared on the two flat sides, but these were seared all the way around. They were perfectly cooked. I am not sure what the yellow sauce was but it was good but not the star of the plate. I actually don’t remember exactly what the sauce tasted like. It was lightly sweet which complimented the savory flavor of the scallop but I liked the fact that the flavor was secondary and forgettable.
I had two appetizers for my entree because if you’ve read my blog before you know I can’t choose just one thing. The Mussels and The Deep Fried Salmon Roll with Chinese Hot Mustard. The mussels were in a tomato based broth with tiny pieces of tomato and onion. I could have drank the stuff. They were savory and the flavors were really developed. The fried salmon was crispy and perfectly cooked which I know is really difficult. That part of the dish wasn’t extremely special but the DA SAUCE – it was amazing. It was spicy and the flavor went perfectly with the salmon. I also mixed the dumpling and hot mustard sauces because yolo – do it.
This is one of my favorite new restaurants in the city, hands down. I will now recommend it to every visitor of SF in my network. Thank you House for being there for me after a series of let downs.
Trestle – San Francisco
I visited Trestle on a Saturday with two friends in the city whom I had a lot of catching up to do. I was excited about my first “pop up” restaurant experience. I love the SF tiny restaurant experience. Trestle seats about 25 -30 people max. It’s extremely cozy, simple, and beautiful. The menu changes daily at a steal for $35 per person for a three course prix-fixe meal. $35/pp in San Francisco is crazy cheap for a fine dining experience. Wine is the only alcohol served with food but the selection is extensive.
Now let’s get down to what I thought about the experience!
The service was excellent. The staff was attentive without being intrusive and it was great. I don’t eat meat (pescatarian) so I will say that the options given on that nigh’t menu was disappointing. The server also didn’t give me the impression that the dishes were edit friendly. There are only two options per course so that made my dinner choice quite easy. There was one option per course that did not include meat, so that’s what I chose!
I started off with the “Endive & Pear Salad.” Let me say that all of their dishes were aesthetically pleasing. They were thoughtful and beautiful to look at but I hate frisee. Frisee is a very bitter green that tastes like dirty lettuce to me. Have you ever tasted lettuce that needed a good wash? That’s what frisee tastes like on my tongue. Needless to say, I did not enjoy the salad. The pear was juicy and sweet and the salad dressing was perfectly acidic but it was more of a fruit and nut salad for me and I considered it average overall.
For my main course I had the “Mt. Lassen Trout.” I actually don’t remember that much about it which is not a good sign. It was only five days ago. I was just looking forward to a great piece of fish with crispy skin and I was disappointed. The dish wasn’t hot – it was warm. I like my food right out of the skillet, oven, fryer – depending on how it’s prepared and I think the lukewarm temperature was a let down right off of the bat. The sauces were amazing and the veggies were nice but I was not in love.
My final course was a “Campfire S’mores Bar”. Meh Meh Meh. The other option was doughnuts and I didn’t feel like eating a small, dense piece of bread so I chose S’mores. It was marshmallow on top of a chocolate granola bar. I ate two bites and I was over it. I didn’t enjoy nor did I understand the passion fruit sauce on the side. I wasn’t into it and I am a junk food junkie.
Maybe my palette is not as sophisticated as the people on Google Reviews but this place did not win me over. I would’t recommend but hey – the menu changes daily so maybe I caught them on an off night!
Brenda’s French Soul Food – San Francisco
A staple in SF. Brenda’s is known for their decadent breakfast and long lines but this place is well worth the wait. I live within walking distance of the small restaurant and you can find me there at least once a month even now that I don’t eat meat. They have plenty of seafood options and I would go there for a biscuit and homemade peach preserves regardless of the rest of their menu. When you walk into Brenda’s you won’t be greeted at the door, simply write your name down on the chalkboard and include the number of people in your party next to your name. It’s mandatory that you order biscuits, beignets, gumbo, grits with cheese, and an omelette – any omelette. The real treasure of this place are the beignets. They come in four flavors. Original, Chocolate, Apple, and Crawfish! The Original are light, fluffy, and perfectly cooked. The Chocolate are for chocolate lovers only and they are filled with cocoa goodness but these are my least favorite as I am not a fan of chocolate – I know, go figure. The apple beignets are my absolute favorite. The apples are crispy and sweet with lots of cinnamon with a light sauce that spills out as soon as you take a bite. The crawfish are next on my list. Slightly spicy and savory filled with a delicious crawfish cheese sauce surrounded by fluffy bread.
The service is average as they are designed to get people in and out so please don’t come here to sit around. Get your food, eat slowly and when you’re done, hit the town for sight-seeing!
The Worst Meal I’ve Ever Had In SF
San Francisco is a peninsula of the most delicious food in the world and it’s easy to get spoiled here. This past weekend my fiance and I were walking up Valencia street. Valencia is a popular sunny spot in SF with tons of cool shops and great restaurants, so picking one can be hard. We stopped at this beautiful, trendy spot that served what we thought was American/Southern cuisine (based on the menu).
First of all, the space was beautiful. It had an old school theme with lots of wood and a feminine touch. It also seemed like the perfect place to have cocktails on a Friday or Saturday evening. John and I are predictable so we both ordered the same thing – French onion soup and seafood gumbo with a side of dirty rice. John and I have a diet that is 99% meatless (we eat soups/meals with chicken broth) but we were willing to let the dirty rice pass today for a good meal.
The soup arrived first and It looked beautiful. The cheese smelled great and the garnish was pretty. We were ready to dig in – until we actually dug in. It was extremely salty. I put Louisiana Cajun seasoning on all my meals. I keep it at my desk and this was salty. This was SALTY. We pushed our soup aside hoping that that entree would have less “flavor” as John called it but our expectations were low. If you can’t make good soup, I doubt you’re going to be able to meet my gumbo expectations.
The gumbo arrived and the thick broth was cloudy – hmm not typically how gumbo broth looks. It actually tasted like more of a curry and less of a gumbo. The dish wasn’t salty, but it had a very odd flavor. There were large shrimp and peppers in this thick orange colored gravy that had a slight curry taste. It also had chicken in it. I understand that most gumbos have chicken but it wasn’t mentioned on the menu so I found that annoying. The rice looked dirty but it tasted a mess. There were peppers and onions in the rice but the peppers tasted bad, and I really love green peppers. They actually tasted unseasoned and overcooked. Before Saturday, I had never tasted rice that I didn’t like but Brasserie did the unthinkable.
My fiance and I looked at the gumbo, then we looked at each other. Then we looked at the gumbo – and asked for the check. We mentioned to the waitress that the soup was too salty and she told us she would let the chef know, but when we packed up our food faster than the roadrunner, she must have known that we were not satisfied with the meal.
We paid our $70 bill and found the first homeless person on our way home to give our two full meals to. I’m sure he’s had better gumbo in his lifetime too. Whatever you do, don’t eat at the Brasserie on Valencia.
nono burger (vegetarian) – San Francisco
One Sunday out of the month the SoMa StrEat Food Park in SF hosts “Very Vegan Sundays” and I happened to be strolling by today – it was fate. I’m pescatarian and I had not eaten breakfast yet so I decided to see what they offered. They had Latin and Asian offerings but I had never had a veggie burger before (can you believe it) so I chose nono burger. They offer veggie “beef” and “chicken” patties with fries and other delicious looking sides. I chose the “Ring of Fire” burger with cheese, (the main reason I’m not vegan) fried onion, bbq, and jalapenos. It also comes with “nono sauce” but I don’t like those kind of sauces so I wiped it off. I never liked big mac sauce, I hate In and Out sauce, I just hate those sauces – and they’re all the same. The burger came with chips that I did’t eat still thinking about my diet. This burger was amazingggg. I don’t know if it was because I haven’t had bread all week or the taste but either way I was pleased.
Price: $$$ I paid $16 for a veggie burger, chips, & a sparkling water. Was it expensive, yes. Do I regret it – heck no.
El Porteno – San Francisco
My heart has been blessed with this next restaurant. This Argentinean Empanada house is fairly new to the Ferry Building here in San Francisco and I’ve walked past it several times but I’ve never ordered. This Sunday, my life changed. I decided to stop by around 4 PM and most of the choices were sold out. Luckily for me, I don’t eat meat and there was only mushroom left, or “Champinones” as they are called in Spanish. I bit into this slice of heaven and I feel madly in love. The mushroom were perfectly seasoned …..PERFECTLY. They accompanied shallots, Parmesan, and creme fraiche. Really good for my taste buds, really bad for my future abs.
Price: $ (One decent sized empanada for $6)
Chaya Brasserie – San Francisco
Chaya is another one of my fiance’s favorite spots. It is Japanese inspired restaurant on the Embarcadero (near the water) in SF. I took him here for his birthday last year and he really enjoyed it. It’s a super chic environment and has immaculate customer service. We visited recently on a Tuesday around 6 PM and were seated immediately. You can never assume that you will be seated immediately in SF for good food. We had a lemonade and a water to drink, so no cocktail reviews tonight! We started with the tuna tartar – seriously, some of the best tartar in the city. We shared the “Alcatraz” sushi roll and it was pretty good. This would not be my first choice for sushi in SF since there are an abundance of great options. We finished by sharing the Kaisen Seafood platter. This platter was huge. It came with three gulf prawns – you can’t really mess those up, scallop ceviche – it was way too sweet, sashimi omakase – delicious with the dipping sauces, kumamoto oysters, and Maine lobster. You can’t really mess up lobster or oysters either. The sauces were cocktail sauce, homemade soy, and a delicious ginger sauce. I could bathe in ginger.
Overall Chaya is expensive and just “OK” for me. I don’t mind paying a pretty penny for a nice dinner, but I don’t find Chaya worth it.
Marlowe Restaurant – San Francisco
My fiance has been raving about Marlowe for weeks. (Almost every day) He says that they have the best deviled egg in SF, so of course, that was his first choice after suggesting we have dinner tonight. We made reservations for 5:30pm by phone and arrived five minutes late, no problem. Our server was super knowledgeable and told us the specials for the night. I ordered the specialty cocktail pictured above. It featured Cava sparkling wine with raspberry, lemon, & orange bitters; simply delicious. We ordered the warm deviled eggs to start, spiced gumbo gulf shrimp, brussel sprouts, & fries. Everything was really good, but the standout dish for the night were the shrimp. So good, we ordered them twice. They came served de-veined with the heads on but detached. They were seasoned so well (slightly over seasoned but black people like that lol) and tasted extremely fresh. We will be back for sure!